Nez Perce

Nimiipuu Health has two locations to serve its patients. The Lapwai Clinic is located in Lapwa, Idaho, also know as The Land of the Butterflys, approximately 13 miles from Lewiston in North Central Idaho. The current clinic is a new 43,000 square foot building that opened in 2004. The Lapwai facility offers comprehensive clinical services including medical care, lab and xray services, pharmacy, dental care, physical therapy, optometry, mental health and substance abuse services, and a wide variety of community health services. services not provided on site may be available through contract health services.
The Indian Health Service provided healthcare to the Nez Perce Tribe unstil 1997 when the tribe took over under P.L. 93-638 of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The Tribe has since transitioned into a Self-Governance Compact in 2002, which allows the Tribe more autonomy and flexibility. This has enabled the Tribe to reallocate funds to best suit the needs of its population and to access other source of funding such as grants for program expansion and construction.  The second ambulatory clinic is located in Kamiah, Idaho approximately 72 miles Southeast of Lapwai. A new 7,000 square foot health facility for the Kamiah area was opened in 2001 and offers medical, dental, behavior health, and community health services on site.
Nez Perce LogoCommodity foods, and elderly care.
Nimiipuu Health provides a full range of outpatient medical services to the patients.  These include preventive services, screening and assessment, diagnostic procedures, treatment, and some rehabilitative services.  These services are provided through the on-site services of our medical/nursing staff with the support of our:
Physical therapy
and Ophthalmology
Services from those programs are on the basis of a referral from one of the Nimiipuu Health providers. Tribal health programs include community, Maternal and child health and WIC & nutrition programs, drug and alcohol, child protective services, Community Health Representatives, Commodity foods, and elderly care. Indian Health Services include contract care, dental, health education, laboratory, pharmacy, medical, sanitation, mental health, and housekeeping.
Mission: To treat mental and physical illness using standard of care practices. To be sensitive to our patients’ life situations when to do so might improve their care. To promote wellness behavior and personal responsibility for health maintenance. To document care sufficiently for effective communication between caregivers and auxiliary personnel. To provide such services without compromising the well being of the providers and auxiliary staff themselves.

  • History
  • Location
  • Native Language
  • Economy
  • Facts
  • Fast Info
  • Contact Information

At one time the Nez Perce people occupied an area that covered North Central Idaho, Northeastern Oregon, and Southeastern Washington. The 1855 Treaty reserved most of their ancestral homelands. However, the discovery of gold in the 1860’s led to the Treaty Council of 1863, and the adjustment of the boundaries of the Reservation. The Reservation was reduced by seven million acres, leaving the Nez Perce with 757,000 acres. Some of the Nez Perce (the “Non-Treaty Nez Perce”) refused to sign this treaty. The government attempted to force their compliance in 1877. A war resulted ending in a surrender at Bear Paw, Montana, following a 1,700 mile, four-month fighting retreat by these Nez Perce toward Canada. The Dawes General Allotment Act of 1877 followed, whereby the remaining land was distributed within the tribe. Then in 1893, the Nez Perce were pressured into signing an agreement in which all unallotted land was declared “surplus” and sold to the Government for homesteading. The result of the Dawes Act was a Nez Perce Reservation reduced to about 86,500 acres, less than 12% of the 1863 Treaty lands. In 1948, the Nez Perce Tribe became a self-governing body under an approved constitution and by-laws. The Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee is composed of nine members distributed geographically throughout the reservation.

The Nez Perce territory at the time of Lewis and Clark (1804-1806) was approximately 17,000,000 acres (69,000 km2). It covered parts of present-day Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho, in an area surrounding the Snake, Salmon and the Clearwater rivers. The tribal area extended from the Bitterroots in the east to the Blue Mountains in the west between latitudes 45°N and 47°N.  The current tribal lands consist of a reservation in north central Idaho at 46°18′N 116°24′W, primarily in the Camas Prairie region south of the Clearwater River, in parts of four counties. In descending order of surface area, the counties are Nez Perce, Lewis, Idaho, and Clearwater.

They speak the Nez Perce language or Niimiipuutímt, a Sahaptian language related to the several dialects of Sahaptin. The Sahaptian sub-family is one of the branches of the Plateau Penutian family (which in turn may be related to a larger Penutian grouping).

Their name for themselves is Nimíipuu (pronounced [nimiːpuː]), meaning, “The People,” in their language, part of the Sahaptin family. There are dictionaries and other texts in the Nez Perce language.

Principal industries include forest products, agriculture, sand and gravel. The Nez Perce tribe is currently undertaking a major land reacquisition program. The Nez Perce Tribe has the second largest economic impact in North Central Idaho and is the third largest employer in the region. The massive fisheries program which employs upwards of 180 people is a major contributor to those statistics.  The tribe now manages the Kooskia Hatchery, co-manages Dworshak Hatchery, and operates the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery plus acclimation sites at Lookingglass in Oregon and other sites on the Clearwater and Snake Rivers.
Most income comes from farm and timber, and the tribe runs a printing plant, a marina, and a limestone quarry. Their economic development plans include a forestry management program and gambling and tourist facilities, including the Nee-Mee-Poo Trail and an expansion of the Nez Perce National Historical Park.

In 1800, the Nez Perce had more than 100 permanent villages, ranging from 50 to 600 individuals, depending on the season and social grouping. Archeologists have identified a total of about 300 related sites, mostly in the Salmon River Canyon, including both camps and villages. In 1805 the Nez Perce were the largest tribe on the Columbia River Plateau, with a population of about 12,000. By the beginning of the 20th century, the Nez Perce had declined to about 8500 because of epidemics, conflicts with non-Indians, and other factors.[9] A total of 3499 Nez Perce were counted in the 2010 Census.  The total land area is about 1,195 square miles (3,100 km2), and the reservation’s population at the 2000 census was 17,959.[21] Its largest community is the city of Orofino, near its northeast corner. Lapwai, the seat of tribal government, has the highest percentage of Nez Perce people, at about 81.4 percent.  Similar to many western Native American tribes, the Nez Perce were migratory and would travel in seasonal rounds, according to where the abundant food was to be found at a given time of year. This migration followed a predictable pattern from permanent winter villages through several temporary camps, nearly always returning to the same locations each year. They were known to go as far east as the Great Plains of Montana to hunt buffalo, and as far west as the west coast. Before construction of The Dalles Dam in 1957, which flooded this area, Celilo Falls was a respected and favored location to fish for salmon on the Columbia River. They relied heavily on q’emes or camas root as a food source; it was gathered in the region between the Salmon and Clearwater river drainages.

Tribal website:
Administration Phone (208) 267-3519
Clinic website:

Clinic Phone (208) 843-2271

Nez Perce Tribe
Nimiipuu Health Center
P.O. Box 367
Lapwai, Idaho 83540
PH (208) 843-2271
Fax (208) 843-7244
Toll Free 1-888-891-2920

P.O. Box 1108
Kamiah, ID 83536
PH (208) 935-0733
Fax (208) 935-1005
Toll Free 1-888-891-2924

Member Tribes